Category News

Oceans suffer from record-breaking year of heat

sunset over the ocean surface

Fuelled by climate change, the world’s oceans have broken temperature records every single day over the past year, a BBC analysis finds. Nearly 50 days have smashed existing highs for the time of year by the largest margin in the satellite era. Planet-warming gasses are mostly to blame, but the natural weather event El Niño has also helped warm the seas. The super-heated oceans have hit marine life hard and driven a new wave of coral bleaching. The analysis is based on data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Service.

Copernicus also confirmed that last month was the warmest April on record in terms of air temperatures, extending that sequence of month-specific records to 11 in a row.

For many decades, the world’s oceans have been the Earth’s ‘get-out-of-jail card’ when it comes to c...

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Fossil Fuels Blamed for ‘Colossal Tragedy’

The world is not doing enough to protect coral reefs, the United Nations’ special envoy for the ocean said last week, in defence of the marine ecosystems that protect biodiversity, sustain underwater life, and produce some of the oxygen we breathe. In an interview with The Associated Press on the sidelines of an international ocean conference in Greece, Peter Thomson suggested that all significant coral reefs should be included in marine protected areas under what is known as the “30×30” initiative, a plan to designate 30% of the world’s land and ocean areas as protected areas by 2030.

Top reef scientists announced last week that coral reefs are experiencing global bleaching for the fourth time—and the second time in just 10 years—as a result of warming oceans amid human-...

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A Healthy Coral Reef Is a Symphony

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, a natural wonder stretching over 1,400 miles off Australia’s Queensland coast, hosting 400 types of coral and thousands of fish species. Since 1981, it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and most of its ecosystem is protected.

But you might not know that it is also the stage for daily underwater concerts. Take a dive or listen to marine biologist Steven Simpson’s recordings and you hear grunt fish grunt, shrimps snap, damselfish chirp, clownfish grumble, sperm whales click and humpback whales sing their soprano mating songs that are audible over tens of miles.

“When I tell them fish have ears, people look at me like I’m mad,” says University of Bristol professor Steve Simpson...

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How Travelers Can Restore Maldives Coral Reefs.

The coral fragment from the seafloor off the coast of the resort Siyam World Maldives in the Noonu Atoll had a stark contrast. One inch of the coral’s light brown tips was bumpy with living polyps, while the rest was dull white, resembling a dead tree branch. This coral species, known as acropora hemprichii, grows in the shallow reefs of the Maldives in tapered branches which eventually look like a bush or dome as they grow.

That piece of coral I spotted broke off from its home likely due to a powerful wave or a careless snorkeler. Once it fell into the sand, it began to die off. To the untrained eye, it seemed like there was no hope for that little coral fragment.

However, that fragment was far from dead, and the solution to reviving it was simple.

Coral planting is a simple a...

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New mass bleaching on Great Barrier Reef

Above-average temperatures for weeks have had a devastating impact on the Great Barrier Reef, as scientists confirmed at least two-thirds of the reef had again undergone mass bleaching. For the fifth time in just eight years, mass coral bleaching is turning hundreds of sites on the Great Barrier Reef white. 

Coral bleaching occurs when higher than average ocean temperatures cause the coral to experience heat stress, causing the coral to secrete algae that provide many nutrients and color. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said aerial surveys of two-thirds of the reef had confirmed widespread bleaching. 

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New method revives coral reefs in 4 years

A recent study sheds light on the promising prospects of coral reef restoration efforts, indicating a swift turnaround in the health of damaged reefs within just four years. Spearheaded by Ines Lange from the University of Exeter, the research offers a glimmer of hope amidst concerns over the plight of coral reefs globally.

Lange and her team focused their investigation on reefs in Indonesia, a region heavily impacted by human activities like blast fishing, which severely degrade these delicate ecosystems. Employing a combination of coral transplantation and the introduction of sand-coated steel structures known as ‘Reef Stars’ to stabilise the damaged substrate, researchers witnessed a remarkable resurgence in coral cover and carbonate production.

Published in Current Biology, ...

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Redefining Humanity’s Relationship with the Ocean

In the face of increasing anthropogenic threats to ecosystems and livelihoods, such as marine pollution, climate change events, and over-exploitation of ocean resources, reshaping our connection with the ocean at all scales and across all of society has become imperative. Through its Challenge 10: “Change Humanity’s Relationship with the Ocean”, the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (the ‘Ocean Decade’) aims to encourage behavioral changes and ensure the impact of solutions in improving humanity’s relationship with the ocean.

Our collective responsibility extends beyond “sustainable ocean management” and conventional scientific methods, additional data, and good science communication...

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Great whites are peacefully coexisting with Californians. Why?

Standing on a balcony lit by San Diego sun, wildlife videographer Scott Fairchild thumbs the throttle of his drone controller. As the drone flies over breaking waves, he sees what he normally sees: some surfers, a swimmer, and a great white shark.

As the lone swimmer drifts away from others in the water, he seems to pique the shark’s interest. It changes course and starts to follow. A hundred yards from shore, this is the exact location of a 2008 fatality caused by a white shark, where a swimmer was “bit in half,” Fairchild tells me later, training for a triathlon.

The shark sinks into murky water, then resurfaces. It veers off to the side, then returns. The swimmer’s arms take turns splashing the water around him, and the shark speeds up, closing the gap between them.

Un...

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Atlantic Ocean circulation nearing ‘devastating’ tipping point.

The circulation of the Atlantic Ocean is heading towards a tipping point that is “bad news for the climate system and humanity”, a study has found. The scientists behind the research said they were shocked at the forecast speed of collapse once the point is reached, although they said it was not yet possible to predict how soon that would happen. Using computer models and past data, the researchers developed an early warning indicator for the breakdown of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (Amoc), a vast system of ocean currents that is a key component in global climate regulation.

They found Amoc is already on track towards an abrupt shift, which has not happened for more than 10,000 years and would have dire implications for large parts of the world.

Amoc, which e...

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Small but Mighty

Tiny plankton – measuring less than 20 µm (or 0.02 mm) in diameter—make up the majority of plankton in the ocean and play a critical role in the planet’s health, according to new research. However, scientists say challenges in identifying them have led to them becoming a silent majority that is currently being overlooked when it comes to global ocean policy. The study is one of the first to explore the abundance and importance of these tiny ocean inhabitants around the U.K. coastline, with the technology capable of monitoring them only having been introduced in around 2010.

However, that monitoring has shown that in some instances, 99.98% of plankton abundance—and 71% of plankton biomass—is derived from these tiny cells.

The research has also shown they can be impacted direct...

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